Forgive One Another
A delicate matter/topic for many. There has been betrayal, trauma, stress, broken relationships, deep pain as a result of actions toward us, or ours toward others. Yet, one in which the bible could not be more clear on. (see Matthew 6:12-15)
What is forgiveness?
It is recognising when we need to forgive, we forgive. It is recognising when we have failed to forgive, we forgive. And if Jesus is our example, it is full and free forgiveness, not in part. Forgiveness therefore is not offering your forgiveness or receiving forgiveness then continuing to harbour feelings thoughts and actions as if we haven’t.
What forgiveness is not?
It is not feeling good about sin against us and the awful things others have done toward us. Because we realise that forgiveness does not always mean an absence of consequences. That there is pain, and grief and are often consequences are not to be mistaken however for FULL and FREE forgiveness. Forgiveness is the act, it is decisive, it is a conscious decision, even when consequences may mean rebuilding of trust.
Why do I forgive?
Because I appreciate the enormity of what Jesus has done for me. If I cannot forgive, I have mistaken what Christ has done for me: forgiven me and given me eternal life. Why we freely and unreservedly offer forgiveness to others comes down to one simple reason: Jesus has forgiven my sin. In fact, he died for my forgiveness.
Or do we withhold the very forgiveness that has been offered us, the very grace that has been offered us? (Read Matthew 18) Jesus’ principle of forgiveness is that grace through forgiveness to another is without limit. The parable teaches, we are to forgive much because God has forgiven, us, much! We cannot harbour unforgiveness, bitterness, anger etc. toward others and expect things to be good with God. Being clean and clear in our hearts toward God requires clean and clear in our hearts toward others.
What about forgiveness for the person who hasn’t repented – and yet has asked for forgiveness?
The key here is doing everything we, individually, are responsibly obliged before God to do to reconcile a matter, to be clean and clear in our hearts before God. It is us being proactive, not waiting for the other person. We engage in the scriptural process (Matthew 18; James 5, etc.). We are to relate to the other person who has not repented, nor recognised any wrong being done, by not “returning evil for evil” but rather blessing them. (1 Peter 3:9)
When do I know I have forgiven?
When we seek reconciliation (Romans 12:8); when we can pray earnestly for them and bless them (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28); when we can grieve at their troubles and hard times (Proverbs 24:17); when we mean them no harm (Psalm 139:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:15); when we can resist any sense of revenge on them (Romans 12:19)
What does forgiveness do?
It honours God, it purifies us, it heals relationships and most importantly, it’s doing what Jesus has done for us.